One of the speakers at the Holmes, Doyle, & Friends conference in Dayton, OH, on March 24 and 25 is Denny Dobry, BSI, well known for his meticulous recreation of the sitting room at 221B Baker Street. His talk will focus on one object in that room—the walking stick known as a Penang lawyer, carried by Dr. Mortimer in The Hound of the Baskervilles and Fitzroy Simpson in “Silver Blaze.”
How and when did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?
“The Speckled Band” was required reading in the ninth grade at my junior high school. Although I was not much of a reader at the time, something clicked and became planted deep in my brain to emerge many years later.
How and when did you become a Sherlockian?
Although little signs of interest in Sherlock Holmes revealed themselves over the years, I didn’t really do anything to advance my interest until 1987, when the centennial of A Study in Scarlet generated some articles in the local newspaper. That would have been the start of my informative years. With life intervening, I didn’t get the time or the courage to attend a scion meeting until 1995. From that first meeting, I would say that I was firmly hooked as a Sherlockian.
What has it meant to you to be part of the Sherlockian community?
Participating in the Sherlockian community is my major interest outside my family life. Almost all of our friends are Sherlockians, and we socialize together in and outside Sherlockian events. I can’t imagine what my interest would have been without Sherlock—probably something more constructive, but not anywhere near as much fun.
You’ve been a Sherlockian a long time. What are one or two of your fondest Sherlockian memories?
By far, my most-fondest Sherlockian memory was the day I walked into Paul Churchill’s home and saw his re-creation of his sitting room. Paul was the inspiration to create my own re-creation of 221B, and he was my first and best Sherlockian friend. Paul passed in 2008 and I think of him and miss him every day.
How did you come to recreate 221B Baker Street in your basement?
I was blown away when I met Paul Churchill and visited his 221B re-creation. Paul’s creation brought the Canon to life for me—Watson’s stories became real. Paul and I became great friends and he encouraged me to pursue my recreation. He was instrumental in helping me with ideas to enhance my sitting room.
What Sherlockian groups do you belong to?
I have belonged to the Beacon Society; Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City, MD; the Denizens of the Bar of Gold of Cambridge, MD; the Six Napoleons of Baltimore; the Copper Beeches of Philadelphia; the Clients of Sherlock Holmes of Philadelphia; the Epilogues of Sherlock Holmes of New Jersey; the John H. Watson Society, and the Hounds of the Internet. I am no longer active in all those groups, and a few of them have faded away.
I received my investiture into the Baker Street Irregulars in 2018 as “A Single Large Airy Sitting-room.”
And after many years, I continue as Gasogene of the White Rose Irregulars of York PA.
Besides Holmes, Doyle, & Friends, what other major Sherlockian events are on your calendar this year?
I plan to attend A Scintillation of Scions in Columbia, MD, this summer and maybe Holmes in the Heartland in St. Louis, June 28-30, as well as three meetings of the White Rose Irregulars.
What question haven’t I asked you that I should?
I also operate the BSI Trust Parnassus on Wheels, collecting donated books and other Sherlockiana, and selling the same to raise funds in support of the Baker Street Irregulars Archives which are housed at the Lilly Library in Bloomington, Indiana.
To find out what treasures the BSI Trust has available that might interest you, email Denny at firstname.lastname@example.org. Although Holmes, Doyle, & Friends Seven, March 24-25, 2023, is closed out for vendors, participants can still register here.